It is not uncommon for male cats to develop an obstruction of the urethra and be unable to urinate. Cats are quite prone to a type of non-infectious inflammation of the bladder, called interstital cystitis. Kitties with this problem may have blood in their urine, urinate in unusual places or go to the litter box frequently to try to urinate. This disease causes a lot of œdebris to build up in the bladder. Male cats have a very small urethra and this small tube actually passes through a bone on the way out of the body. If some of the debris in the bladder gets into the urethra, it can form a solid plug that will not allow urine to pass. Think about the last time you had to urinate and had no access to a bathroom – ouch! After just a half day, the pressure from this will start to back up into the kidneys and these cats can become very sick and even die. When a male cat is plugged like this, we need to use a special catheter to remove the plug and then keep a catheter in place until his urine clears up and he can urinate more freely. As you can see in this picture, this is not fun for the kitties!
If you have a cat that is going to the litter box often and not producing urine, call your veterinarian immediately. This is an emergency for a male cat and it is very painful for a female. If your cat is urinating in unusual places or has blood in its urine, it should be seen within 1-2 days.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP